The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

The Groove Tube Update”¦filmed before a live studio audience (just this one time though”¦)

LOOK AT THIS”¦”¦

** This is just sad. R.I.P. Najai Turpin.

** I feel like this is what would happen if DC Comics got their hands on Bugs and Daffy”¦

** You gotta love Omarosa. She’s trashing the very institution that made her famous to begin with because of the lack of African-American representation. C’mon”¦Maybe she should just stick to the Burger King commercials and appearances on the celebrity edition of Fear Factor.

** Uh oh”¦a major no-no for ABC News. PAYING for news content?!?!? Next, you’ll tell me God and Satan were seen bowling together”¦

THE OPENING CREDITS: IP TV gratuity

** I AM serious. Beverly Hills, 90210 and 7th Heaven aren’t that different!

** I debuted Mr. Coogan’s 5 questions in last week’s Weekly Pulse. I’d REALLY like your feedback and to answer YOUR questions instead of me talking to myself”¦

** Murtz scores again as he secured an interview with Verna Felton, the only candidate from The Apprentice to ever QUIT!. But I’m still wondering why she actually quit”¦

** By the time you read this, Survivor: Pulau will have already debuted! In case you recorded it and haven’t seen it yet, you can get jazzed up by reading preview columns by Mark Polishuk, Sarah Quigley, Dan Wentzel and Patrick Gilchriest.

** Speaking of Survivor: Pulau, the newest Pulse Pool is up and I’m asking you nicely to register. You’d be a fool if you didn’t anyway”¦

** Speaking of Sarah Quigley, she’s got another great column breaking down the now infamous Dove Body Wash episode of The Apprentice. Youch!

** Crazy Mike Lawrence (that’s his new nick name) is back with two more offerings. In one, he reviews some television news in poetry form (and thanks for the shout out man) and in another, he recaps The Simpsons.

** Sorry Carlos. I disagree. Saturday Night Live was terrible all around last week.

** Desperate Housewives is back after a couple of weeks off and John Duran has all the details.

** Kudos to Matt Romanada, who’s become very involved with IP TV since 2005 started. Not only with his columns but with news and live coverage as well. You can check out latest live coverage of the most recent episode of 24 (done with Mr. Editor himself, Murtz). It’s worth it.

** More Romo? Yes, it’s true. He waxes poetic about poker on TV too.

** Everyone’s favorite jack-of-all-trades, Mathan, is back with another Remote Destination too. I love the name of that column.

TV NEWS

Wow”¦tough week if you’re a TV columnist/news reporter that doesn’t like to report on pilots being picked up the networks”¦Let’s see what we can come up with:

** Scrubs was filmed in front of a live studio audience.” – NBC finally aired the episode of Scrubs that diehard fans of the show and observers of the industry were looking to see: the “traditional” sitcom episode.

In the episode that aired Feb. 15, J.D. (Zach Braff) launched into an extended dream sequence after he met one of the writers for Cheers in the emergency room of Sacred Heart Hospital. The scene was in conjunction with having to tell the writer (played by Ken Lerner) that he had advanced case of lung cancer was likely close to death.

It reminded J.D. of the absurdity of sitcoms. Yet, it also reminded him of the harmless fun that many “traditional” sitcoms have employed over the years. It featured a hospital room that was obviously on a soundstage, corny dialogue, canned laughter at obviously placed parts of the script where laughter was required, canned excitement when guest star Clay Aiken appeared, a similar reaction to “Janito’s” first appearance in the story and, in a nice touch, subtle hints of random sexuality in Elliott (Sarah Chalke) and Carla (Judy Reyes) as they wore the most miraculous of push up bras and low cut scrubs that showed very little to the imagination.

According to a Zap2it.com story Rick Porter wrote this week, Creator/Executive Producer Bill Lawrence went this route in storytelling not only to be different and a little wacky, he had ulterior motives to some degree. Since Lawrence is executive producing several traditional sitcom pilots for pilot season and wanted to use the same crew that works on Scrubs, he wanted them to get some practice.

“Part of this is sitcom practice for the crew, so they’re ready to do those pilots and shows with me,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence also had this to say about what he hopes people will get out of the episode:

I hope people will like it on two levels — hopefully they’ll watch it and laugh because we took time to write really funny stuff, and on some level be enjoying the fact that we’re tweaking the format a little bit.

Well”¦

While it was a noble effort by everyone to knowingly abandon their normal format in favor of something different, something happened to me while I was watching this episode that hadn’t happened before.

I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

I think in trying so hard to be funny and like a traditional sitcom with the punchlines and canned laughter, those associated with the production forgot what makes the show great and that it’s nothing like the last half of the episode that aired this week.

Sure, some parts of it were fun and great (I still can’t get Elliott’s and Carla’s cleavage out of my head). But I just got the impression that they were taking this big joke of paying tribute (i.e. mocking) to these traditional sitcoms and beating a dead horse. The dreadful overacting and writing that was blown up and calling attention to itself is not what Scrubs is all about. It’s much more subtle and more intelligent than that and it got lost in this episode, which was uncharacteristically excruciating.

Hey”¦you can’t blame them for trying something different. That’s more than I can say for many series on the air. But now that they’ve tried it, I’d just like them to go back what they do best, that’s all.

Don’t worry if you don’t have Showtime”¦You can still see everyone’s favorite Fat Actress – It may not seem like much, but if you think about it, the deal that Yahoo! Entertainment and premium cable network Showtime is extremely innovative according to multiple sources.

Showtime will premiere the long awaited comedy series developed (in part) by and starring Kirstie Alley (an Emmy winner for her work on Cheers) on Sunday March 7 at 10 p.m. EST. Since Showtime is a premium cable network that much of audience doesn’t bother paying the extra $6-10 per month for, many people are going to miss the anticipated pilot.

Knowing that, Showtime has signed a deal with Yahoo! Entertainment to allow the entertainment portal to stream the episode at the same time as the east coast debut time. It will also be available on the site until March 12. However, from there that’s all you get. If you’re interested in the show, you’ll have to subscribe to the network. I guess executives are trying to get everyone’s mouths watering. Though, I’m not sure how a plus-sized Kirstie Alley is supposed to do that.

Nonetheless, I do believe the deal is important for two reasons:

1. The obvious one — the availability of premium television content on the Internet for free. Only HBO and Showtime really would have this market cornered since they are the only real premium cable networks that have original programming. But I suppose the same principles apply to those who don’t have the two-hundred-something channels that digital cable or satellite TV offers.

Nonetheless, I still ask. Is this going to be a trend that networks in the industry picks up? Or is this merely a one-time thing that’s more of an anomaly? I doubt networks will rush to using this tactic and giving away their product for free that subscribers pay for. But it is something to consider after looking at the statistics. If the show gets a lot of downloads and actually gets some people to call their local provider and sign up , who knows? Maybe it could start a new, interesting trend.

2. What about online entertainment? — As I said, I thought this deal was important for two reasons and the other is the feasibility and potential interest of online specific entertainment. I remember back in old days of the Internet, you know”¦about five or six years ago, Web sites like Shockwave.com came around and signed huge deals with high profile talent like Adam Sandler, and the South Park guys (Matt Stone and Trey Parker) to produce comic content that would be only available on the Internet.

It was as if people a few years ago believed that as the Internet caught on, we would do just about everything on the Internet including be entertained, as if it was going to rival what television does now. The fad died out and now shockwave.com is primarily a game Web site. That won’t change. Any time someone working at a computer has a chance to fool around and not do their work, people will play games. But they didn’t necessarily watch shows available.

Now that high-speed Internet is readily available and used by most savvy users at home and work, will that change? Are people ready to sit at their desk watching shows instead of in the easy chair or couch? If more ventures like this come up, it’s worth considering further”¦

* * * * * *

** Maybe CBS aught to reconsider airing the Grammys on another night, or at least opposite of a Desperate Housewives repeat. – Wow. Seven million less? Yup. That’s what CBS and the Grammys faced this year, a STEEP viewership drop of more than seven million viewers when compared to last yea’s extravaganza celebrating the best in music over the last year (I think”¦but the way the nominations are determined, you could fool me). Let’s go over the bad and the ugly (from Zap2it.com):

* 18.83 million tuned in for the show, down somewhere between 25 and 30 percent from the approximately 26 million who checked out the 2004 event.

* Ratings in the adults 18-49 demographic also tumbled, falling to an 8.1 this year after coming close to a 12.0 rating in 2004.

* The last time the audience was this small was in 1995 when just 17.3 million made it a point to watch the Grammys. This number comes close to the 18.97 million who tuned in for the 2002 show though.

No matter how you shake it, it’s ugly. What happened? The answer is pretty simple really and, amazingly, it comes down to ABC. They took a slight risk and aired their normal lineup with all new episodes despite the possible dip in ratings because of the Grammys. It worked out beautifully for the most part as a new episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition secured 16.6 million pairs of eyes and an all new Desperate Housewives only had a small dent in the audience (22.1 million versus usually between 23 and 24).

Also, for some reason unbeknownst to me, the Grammys just isn’t the appointment television that the Oscars are. Here’s a theory though: The Grammys generally pay tribute to the latest in popular music. Overall, popular music really is absorbed by the younger crowd, a crowd that doesn’t watch all that much television. They don’t to sit through the Grammys and the older people who would be more interested in the awards generally don’t relate to the artists being honored. Yes, it’s true that the producers of this yea’s show tried to attract an older audience (at least in part) with the Lynyrd Skynyrd set and Melissa Etheridge singing Janis Joplin. But that was hardly enough to make a real dent.

So, as an adult, why not just stick with what’s on normally instead of making the change to something that’s not relatable?

That’s my analysis anyway”¦

* * * * * *

** Jon Stewart’s sticking around Comedy Central for a while”¦Don’t ask about other gigs”¦ – OK. It appears that we can take Jon Stewart out of any talks when late night talk shows openings come up.

That’s because Stewart finalized a deal with Comedy Central that sweetens the deal he signed that takes him through 2008. In addition to making him rich and giving him every Friday off from his The Daily Show with Jon Stewart hosting duties, the network will also finance his production company, Busboy Productions.

In return, Comedy Central will get first rights to any TV project the company develops. Stewart and Ben Karlin, executive producer of The Daily Show will head up the company.

Let’s forget, for one second if we can, that just about every celebrity in Hollywood has their own production company. Basically, what Comedy Central has done is in addition to paying him loads of money to work four days per week, they’ve signed him to a development deal that will allow him to create shows for a network that is known for pumping out funny comedies as if they come off an assembly line.

I’d say this is a pretty sweet deal that Stewart has, even if it is for cable versus the broadcast network. He’ll never make as much money at Comedy Central than if he ever made it to one of the networks. Even still, it’s quite a deal for him, one the networks will never give him.

Everyone. Get comfortable with Jon Stewart on cable”¦

* * * * * *

** Now”¦THIS is news! The debut of an actual show! – ABC announced this week that new series, Grey’s Anatomy will debut in the post-Desperate Housewives spot in the primetime lineup starting on Sunday, March 27.

Grey’s is about a first year surgical resident in Seattle (Ellen Pompeo, Luke Wilson’s love interest in Old School) who is trying to follow in her famous fathe’s footsteps and forge her own career in medicine. Sandra Oh (Sideways) co-stars as a competitive colleague, with Katherine Heigl (Roswell), Patrick Dempsey and Isaiah Washington.

According to Zap2it.com, ABC Entertainment President, Stephen McPherson has gone on record as saying that now that the network has a real hit on its hands in Desperate Housewives and a great timeslot to keep it in (Sundays at 9 p.m.), he’d like to use the post Housewives timeslot to promote new shows that (hopefully) get viewers to stick around for the groove tube for more ABC fun. It makes all the sense in the world. In fact, USA Today just did a story this week looking at some of the more popular shows and the effect they have on the shows following them. Yeah”¦they do better.

So, this is a move that makes great sense and those associated with Grey’s should be as happy as a pig in”¦well, you get the idea.

There wasn’t any word from ABC where Grey’s would be placed after its four episode run, but that decision doesn’t need to be made until the end of April considering the late debut and four week run.

And for those Alan Shore and Denny Crane fans out there, no one should worry. The replacement of Boston Legal is temporary and would have been in reruns at that time Grey’s will debut.

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Mr. Coogan’s 5 Questions

1. A Scrubs related question: Are J.D. and Turk (and Carla) going to continue to live together? – **BEWARE OF SLIGHT SPOILERS** – According to a column written by Zap2it.com’s “TV Gal,” Amy Amatangelo a couple of weeks ago, and a description from the NBC Web site, that is actually going to change real soon, like in the next couple of episodes. Amatangelo didn’t get into the details like if J.D. would be living alone, with Elliott or with his new girlfriend, Kylie (Chrystee Pharris, Passions). But considering his rocky past with Elliott and the fact that Pharris hasn’t been added to the full-time cast, signaling that relationship won’t be lasting long, I’d imagine he’d end up living alone somewhere.

But that traumatic event will cause the characters to go in an entirely different direction and the jokes will surely follow.

My answer: **BEWARE OF SLIGHT SPOILERS**

* * * * * *

2. A Desperate Housewives question: Who’s gay? – Scuttlebutt picked up by the New York Daily News revealed one of the characters on Desperate Housewives is coming out of the closet in the next episode (set to air on Feb. 20).

Sure, the producers were irritated. But since we have this information, let’s do something with it. Who could it possibly be? The story suggests that it ISN’T one of the Housewives (Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross or Eva Longoria), which makes sense. Part of their appeal is the fact they’re all straight and have man troubles in one way or another. So, that leaves one of the more secondary characters. I’ll make a guess and say it’s one of the following two:

* Bree and Rex’s son – The teaser on abc.go.com in part states: “Bree is shocked when she finds a condom — and even more so when she learns whom it belongs to.” I don’t know where else she’d find a column but in her own home. So, she probably finds it and assumes it belongs to one of her two kids. Sure, they could be using it with a member of the opposite sex, but the “gay thing” provides an interesting twist too.

* Mrs. Hube’s sister – I’m not sure why she’s still living in her siste’s house. Is she still cleaning it out? Making her a lesbian would give her something to do. It’s certainly not eloquent from a storytelling point of view and largely unnecessary, but it could work and still add some shock value”¦

My answer: It’s either the kid or the (relatively) old lady and it probably won’t make that much of a difference in the bigger storylines”¦

* * * * * *

3. Another Carnivale question: Is the Ben/Sofie relationship over even before it started? – Interesting little twist in the last episode I must say. Sofie had been thinking of leaving the carnivale for a while after her mother died. Then she went ahead and did it anyway even after a night of extreme passion with Ben. She asked him to go with her but since he’s off to find his father and engage in the ultimate battle of good and evil, he’s a little busy at the moment.

Nonetheless, I think it’s a blip on the radar and I think Sofie will end up coming back and I think she and Ben will still have many unresolved feelings to deal with. It does seem like typical Carnivale though. The minute anyone sees a little bit of happiness, something terrible happens.

* * * * * *

4.Another Boston Legal question: How does David E. Kelley get all of these fabulous guest stars? – It was announced this week that Emmy winner Shelley Long (Cheers) will do a guest spot on Boston Legal in an episode airing in March.

So, for the second straight week, announcements of high profile guest stars dominate the news coming out of Boston Legal. How does David E. Kelley and his production team do it?

The answer is fairly simple to me. It’s all about the Emmy baby”¦

Consider these remarkable stats (compiled by my research and accessed from the Emmy’s Web site:

* Between 1999-2004 actors and actresses who guest starred on Kelley’s The Practice were nominated a staggering 15 times for Emmy’s (in the Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in a drama).

* Of the 15, five women were nominated and three of them won, including Sharon Stone in 2004.

* Ten men have been nominated. Four out of the six years, multiple actors who did guest spots on The Practice were nominated.

* Most impressively: An actor from The Practice won the Emmy in this category every year between 1999 and 2004 except for 2003. William Shatner won in 2004 before truly creating the Denny Crane we all know and love.

So, what does that mean? David E. Kelley writes great scripts with outstanding characters that give the actors involved a chance to really sink their teeth into.

My answer: As long as Kelley is making the mantle that much more impressive for actors looking to win awards and improve their resume, he’ll continue to get great guest stars.

* * * * * *

5. An American Idol question: Is the show better with the older age limits? – In case you haven’t heard, the 24 American Idol finalists have been determined and the ratio of teeny bopping teenagers to adults is quite lower this time around. The average age of the 12 male finalists: 24. The average age of the 12 female finalists: 21.

That’s, on average, older than last year and we are assured that of the final eight or nine contestants, half of them won’t be old enough to vote (unlike last year).

I like the older people but many people who watch Idol are crazy teenagers who like to vote for the person they like the best. What if the person is a little bit older? Will the kids who tune in have the same connection?

From a selfish point of view, I don’t really care. I think the older contestants have more to offer and, in this case, they seem to be different when compared to the cardboard cut-outs of past seasons of the show.

So”¦

My answer: I think it’s better, but unfortunately, the ratings artificially define exactly what “better” is.

And it’s “better” that I end this column now”¦

— Coogan